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Critical Tourism Theory And Methods Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 5427 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Tourism and hospitality turned out to be one of the very important industry all over the world. Even the governments also started to concentrate on this field as it became one of the major revenue source. The ministries of tourism development made lots of recreational work to attract tourist all over the world. For this work the research is very important to gather knowledge about what attracts the tourists, what need to be done for attract more tourists and it is important to get the statistics to keep tab on the growth rate to identify the impact of the improvement measures made.

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There is lots of interaction between the peoples from different countries, communities, religions, regions, language, races. These interactions greatly boost up the tourism and hospitality around the world. Various new techniques and research methodologies are needed to identify and fulfill the requirements of the tourist and find out the customer satisfaction and make innovative steps to attract more number of them and to get a clear picture about the issues which affects tourism, and get proper solution for that.

The research is more important for this industry and various research theories evolved all around the world and researches, case studies and surveys on various aspect of tourism and hospitality.


Tourism is one of the world’s most rapidly growing industries. It is also one of the driving factor of the global economy of the 21st century. Much of its growth is due to increased leisure time, increased income, travelling cost. Due to technological development like computers and internet tourists can easily find the places and get information about the places which they want to visit, can find out best accommodation and hotels and it also able to compare the cost and decide which is best and made effective plans for their tours.

As for as the tours are concerned they must be made in the right time of the year especially the climate must be considered the internet makes it’s possible to decide which time of the year is best to visit the place, they can know about the climate, culture of the native people, the details about the foods and much more important information’s about the place where they are going to visit. It encouraged people to travel a lot and its made them feels confident because they know each and every step of their travel and can manage even some unexpected problem arises,

This new trend made the tourism jobs very challenging, the holiday makers want a good return for what the cost they pay. The increase in tourism made lots of changes in the life of the people globally it provide more employment opportunity, increases the income of the people, generates foreign exchange , builds on the existing infra structure, diversifies the economy and it also develops the local products and resources.


Research in the field of tourism and hospitality has been started in early 18th century the knowledge about the tourism and hospitality during the Middle Ages are mainly come from

The pope/priest who has act as the religious heads those who are the one who is very powerful and has control over the social life of the people also.

TRADITION the tradition of the people once people’s started to travel from one place to other place the tradition of the people’s are also started to spread around the world. The tradition of the tourists and native people started to mingle and the traditions started to modified and the changes automatically attracts the researchers who concentrated in the patterns on the social changes in the people’s life. The changes based on the number of tourist visit, their period of stay, their interaction and the relationship between the tourist and natives plays a vital role in the traditional change.

The traditions cannot be changed easily it will take a considerable period of time associated with other factors. Tourism plays an important role in intermingling the traditions and cultures of various country people’s around the world. The tourism not only affects the tradition of local people but also make considerable changes in the tradition of the tourist’s country also.

Tourism and hospitality are now one of the fast developing business sector of this century. In olden days it’s not easy to travel from one place to other place the mode of travelling, climate, language problem are major hurdles for the travel it takes long period of time to travel from one place to other place most of the travels are made either for the purpose of business or as pilgrimage rather than tourism.

Due to the development in the transport the invention of fast travelling vehicles made the travelling faster as well as easier and less costlier. This change made it possible for the people who is curious about other parts of the world and cultures of the people around the world.

The language, dressing, lifestyle and culture started to attract not only the common people it also started to attract the scholars like philosophers and researchers who is interested about the people’s around the world. This interest triggered them to make close communication with the foreigner’s and they started to record the culture and language of the visitors and started to compare the difference and uniqueness of the visitors culture, language and life style with their own and with other foreign visitors. These are the foundations of research’s in the field of tourism and hospitality.

The rational thinking by the philosophers and researchers based on the various notes and chronological record of events and detailed notes about the cultural, traditional practices and life style of the people’s of various places left by the priest who played an important role in day to day life of the local people and the personal diaries, notes and communication left behind by the people who travelled around the world which had lots of information about the travelling pattern, food, natural attractions and travelling modes helped researchers to widen the scope of research in the field of tourism and hospitality.

The researchers mainly focused on the social science, natural science, religious aspects palmistry and faith of the people and their traditional sharing and development based on the tourism and hospitality for coming to various assumptions and formed various theories

The researchers and philosophers formed various research theories based on the assumptions:-

1. Classical theory – The assumption in classical theory is people are working because of the


2. Systems theory – This theory slightly varied from the classical theory in this theory it is

assumed that the people are happily working because along with the

pay they get better treatment from the management also.


The researchers help to find out the origin, age, education, income and spending habits and travel patterns, life style and activity preferences of the tourists and get the picture about what the tourist like and dislikes about the destination and the travel information’s importance, the impression of adverting and the overall satisfaction of the visitors.

Not only the private persons. But, the Governments is also started to concentrate on tourism development. It also initiated various researches to introduce several development programmes, to follow up the improvements, to rectify difficulties and made other necessary developments to attract the tourist for increase its revenue.

Research methodologies generally differentiate the research approaches in 3 different categories

Positivism and post positivism

Inter pretivism

Critical theory

The positivism is mainly focused and based on the positive data there are chances of falsification because of the nature of the data’s involved and to overcome the possibility of falsification, the scientific research method is used in the scientific or quantitative method the data’s used in this method is numerical data’s and surveys easily comparable and very reliable.

There are various approaches and dimensions for the research in tourism and hospitality industry

-ƒ  Theoretical research

-ƒ Applied research

-ƒ Empirical research

-ƒ Non – Empirical research

-ƒ Induction method

-ƒ Deduction method

-ƒ Descriptive research

-ƒ Explanatory research

-ƒ Positivist research

-ƒ Interpretive research

-ƒ Experimental research

-ƒ Non – Experimental research

-ƒ Qualitative research

-ƒ Quantitative research


This research method is the research on the great deal of information about the small number of people. It’s a research based on the sociological, Phenomenological, Observational research rather than the research based on figures, numbers, percentages if the various aspects of the subject.

The qualitative research method is based on interviews, observations, questionnaires, focus groups, reports and case studies. It not relied on the numerical data’s or statistics.

Furthermore qualitative research is the assumption

Qualitative research is a research method used to analysis the reasons why the tourists select one place over another, why one place attract more tourists than the other. This method used to understand, describe, and dissect the problems and find out the reason and the solution for the problem or complexity by way of using techniques like assumption, understanding and try to find out the solution.

This method is one of the alternative methodological approach which has been recognised in lots of fields and it is against the old positivism approach.

Generally qualitative research is starting from an inductive position, to build up the theoretical concept related framework because of the present literatures or theories may mislead.

However, Miles and Huberman (1994) stated that:

“Researchers usually have idea about the study, a provisional initial conceptual frame work and for the new , in experienced or time constrained researchers it is always better to have some basic idea about what they are looking for it may change over the time”.

Qualitative data are not based on the statistical report but it is basically a content based data. It balance the impersonal nature of fact with the statistics or personal information given by individuals for the research.

This methodology in tourism research is a collection of life stories of persons, interviews and participant observation. It also shows the group of person relevant to the research and why they are related to the research.


Qualitative data’s are non – numerical. Hence, the term “empirical material” was used by Researchers to refer the term “data” in Qualitative Research.

The Interviews, observation, Focus groups, Non statistical methods.


Interview is a technique used in qualitative research to get the in depth knowledge of the participant about the research theme. It is also used to describe the theme effectively and it mainly concentrate in the factual and meaning level.

It is mainly used in interviews concentrate in the sociological researches. Types of interviews used in qualitative research –

–ƒ  Unstructured interview – Unstructured interview are otherwise called life history interviews because they mainly concentrate on the facts about once personal and intimate information. This method allows the researcher to ask as many question as he needed to sort out the fact.

In this type of interview the researcher must alert because this interviews produce a great deal of information which is more difficult to analyse.

-ƒ Semi structured interview – Semi structured interviews are generally used in the qualitative sociological research. This type of interviews must be conducted by schedule and need to prepare list of questions and topics because in this type interview the researched want to know the specific information and then compare it with the other information’s he gathered so, same questions need to be asked in all the interview on the same topic.


Observation is a technique that is not directly involves the questing of participants it’s merely the observation of what is happening and gathering the data by way of that observation. It is very useful for gathering data’s about certain categories like children and infants.

The researchers observes in two ways,

The direct observation and

The participant observation

The direct observation generally uses the one way mirrors and video camera technologies in certain circumstance to observe. Researches in field of health and psychology generally on the direct observation method.

The participation observation is viewed as a method as well as a methodology, in this method the observer become one of the participant, it is also a time consuming process this type generally used in anthropological and sociological researches.

Focus groups:-

Focus groups may be group discussion or the group interview. A particular issue discussed by number of people who gathered in one place. It helps to get qualitative feedback. The focus groups in the tourism and hospitality industries influences on the investment of the companies in this industry.

In this method it is possible to get more number of ideas in the same place and it is also possible to get a majority aspect of a particular theme easily rather than collecting the information’s individually and then come to a conclusion. In this type of group discussion its possible to analyse one view over others and question the others why they come to this conclusion. The technological advancements helps a lot in the group discussions by way of video conferencing, skype, webcams and all.

Customer feedback cards:

The customer feedback cards generally used to collect the comments about a particular product, a particular service or a particular place. It is very useful to get the majority view of the advantage and disadvantage about that service or product.

This method generally used in marketing, tourism and hospitality industries to gather the idea or to decide what improvements should be made to attract more number of people and know which is greatly preferred by the people and what should be done for the customer satisfaction.

In tourism and hospitality industry this technique is used by restaurants, hotels, travel agencies on other service providers in that industry

Non – statistical data’s :-

published and unpublished documents like company reports, memos, letters, email messages, reports, faxes and news paper articles are considered as written data sources also plays an important role in the qualitative research data collection.


Analysing qualitative data is not a simple procedure, It’s a time consuming procedure and the researcher have to go through thousands of information’s he collected and sort out them before got a clear picture about what sort of result he got.

The draw back in analysing the qualitative data is it is associated with the social life the researcher carried out his research using various techniques to collect the data and the long period of time it consume makes a significant impact in the final conclusion because of the social change in the passing time. When the researcher analysing the collected data he has to consider the social circumstance at the time of its collection to come to a correct conclusion otherwise it leads the researcher in a wrong direction and make him come to a wrong conclusion.

The Subjective analysis and The Objective analysis are the data analysis method used in the qualitative and quantitative research methods.

The subjective analysis used is usually applied to analysis of qualitative data’s. For example analyse the impact of culture on tourism, analyse the aspects which affects the tourism, analyse the facts plays a role in perception of tourism place select.


When it comes to qualitative research it varies from time to time along with the cultural changes, the hurdles by language difference and difference in the approaches that would affect the tourism participants.


The quantitative research method is a research based on the data’s. It is the scientific approach of the problem and it is one of the traditional method of approach. This research generally held when we need the result in numerical form, it is useful to divide people into different category based on their interest. It is very useful to quantify the opinions. For example, the increase in middle clause peoples spending in tourism, find out the increase in international tourism. This method is very useful if any issue involve mass people’s opinion it is easy to use the quantitative research method rather than a qualitative method to find out the majority opinion.

This method analysis the theory deductively by comparing the relationship between the existing data’s and the proposed research results. According to Duffy (1985) – the Quantitative research is based on the random selection of sample from various study groups and collect data’s over a particular population.

As per the study of Backmon and riemans (1987) – the experimental and quasi experiments gives the essential data’s to the research to control and manipulate the independent variable to study the effects on the dependent variable. But this is not possible in the quantitative research because this research method dismisses the individual variable as unimportant.

The quantitative research is a research based on the numerical and figurative data’s of various aspect collected by the researcher. The researcher can come to a conclusion or get solutions to various problems by comparing and analysing statistics. The quantitative research method is used in tourism related researches also the year wise data’s of the tourist visit to a particular spot, finding out the reason for the increase or decrease of tourist visit to that area by taking interviews and surveys from the tourist as well as local people’s.

Further that this method is used to find out the success of various development measures taken by the government as well as the innovative improvement activities made out by the private entrepreneurs for the development of the area, how the improvements attracts more number of tourist around the world.

As per UNWTO’s World Tourism Barometer (volume – 10 , July,2012) :-

Based on the reports of 85 countries, UNWTO estimated that destinations worldwide recorded 285 million International tourist between January and April 2012, some 15 million more than the 270 million recorded in the same period in 2011.


But this method is not useful if we want in-depth research about a certain issue, it only give the broader and swallow detail and the details regarding facts alone and the simple issues.


The data collection techniques of the quantitative research method are surveys, questionnaires, structured interviews, customer feed back



Structured interviews


Surveys are the best method of collecting the statistical data. It is one of the primary data collection techniques of quantitative data collection and it is also a non experimental method. This method especially very useful for the researches in the tourism and hospitality industries because this technique is very useful to get the direct and comparable data’s.

Cross sectional survey: survey taken in the same point of time basically the questionnaires is used. In tourism and hospitality industry it is used for the surveys like no of tourist visited u.k in 2011.

Longitudinal survey: This technique is the survey taken over a long period of time on the same aspect to compare whether the rate of tourist inflow increased, the increase in the per capita income of the native people. Comparing the no of visitors of Olympics 2007 and 2012.

There are many of surveys methods such as customer in person surveys like Electronic surveys like survey through telephone, online surveys. The technological development made the survey really easier, speedy and economic the electronic surveys like the survey through the telephone, mobile or the survey through online are very effective and made the surveys covering wider area and millions of people around the world.


A questionnaire is one of the important tool in collecting the quantitative data’s. It is useful only to gather the factual and straight forward information.

Generally questionnaires are paper – pencil methods or web based questioner, the paper – pencil methods made people more truthful because many people feel comfortable in this indirect method rather than respond in face to face direct methods. So often the paper pencil method is more useful.

There are 3 types of questionnaires:

Closed ended questionnaires

Open ended questionnaires

Combination of both

Closed ended questionnaires are generally yes or no type or optional type and in this type of questionnaire the answers already given and the participants only have to select the answers. This type used in survey methods.

Open ended questionnaires:

In the open ended questionnaires the answers are in descriptive type. In this method

the blank space provided below the question for the answer. It is used to know what the people think about the place or about the service.

Combination of both:

Now a days the Combination of both the open and closed end questionnaires are effective way used for research. In this method both the objective as well as descriptive type questions. The optional type questions are used to get the direct question and the descriptive type questions in the same questionnaires to get more details about the same issue for detailed and in depth knowledge.

Structured interviews:-

In Quantitative research structured interviews are often used to collect data’s. In this method it is very easy to get direct data’s rather than getting an indirect one but it’s a one of time consuming and expensive method.

In structured interview can be conducted Face to face, with help of computers and webcams and over the telephones. Face to face interview is the one of the best form of interview rather than the telephone interview or computer assisted personal interviews. In the face to face interview it is more possible to get the detailed and direct answers.


Analysing the quantitative data’s the researchers can able to get a clear picture of customer satisfaction and need of improvement, growth of the hospitality business, economic impact of tourism among the local community.

In analysing the data’s in quantitative research techniques the researchers uses various types of analysing methods such as Descriptive statistics, regression analysis, time -series regression and input – output method.

The objective method usually applied the analyse the quantitative data’s. It examines the data in scientific method in the prospect of other branches indicated by the methodology. For example analysing the impact of economy and ecology on tourism.


Critical theory is the research developed by the Frankfurt school (horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and Habermas). This critical theory meaning referred by its difference from other research types and its roots traced to marx and Hegel. To some extent critical theory have some aspects of constructionism such as the cultural and historical knowledge and hat knowledge is specific it interlinks the social action and culture.


There are many meanings for the word critical and we have to single out a particular meaning to use in tourism research. Critical is a special category of importance where the failure to understand and act may result in irretrievable loss.

The tourism research has the issues like critical incident analysis and critical success factors hence it is considered as critical research. There is another meaning for critical it is based on the notion that close scrutiny of the fact, identifying the weaknesses and wrongs and offering correct judgement for the considered issue. There are many examples of such research in tourism

Analysing consumer satisfaction and destination, quality to evaluation of sustainable

practices. Both of these usages of the term are familiar to those in the tourism and hospitality industry. But neither reflects the precise use of the term for the tourism research where discussion will engage in the more specialised and technical meaning of the term as deployed in the concept of critical theory. Critical theory shares the concepts of constructionism it clearly distinguishes itself from constructionism in lot of important ways.

Kincheloe and McLaren (2003) enumerate the major concerns of critical theory and these are illustrated in table one which organises them around eleven domains. These domains and their associated objectives are now discussed. A key distinguishing feature of critical theory.

Habermas’s (1978) contribution is very important in the critical theory, particularly his theory of knowledge-constitutive interests, where he concludes that there is no interest-free knowledge. For example in Knowledge and Human Interests he argues that knowledge derived from positivist methodology generally serves technical interests – in particular those of management and control and the finding of technical solutions to problems. Considering the importance of this technical

solutions takes the current ordering of things as given whereas for critical theory the deliberately fore grounded things by current ordering is considered as a possible problem.

The critical theory approach to tourism research is to conclude what interest the people, which interest is served and how the power operated in the particular formation of tourism research as well as int he process of tourism and hospitality.

Kincheloe and McLaren (2003:437) explains that:- the critical theory rejects the crude forms of economic determinism (domain two) and rather posits that there are “multiple forms of power.” The most relevant discourse and ideology for tourism over structuralist explanation based on simple economic determinism is the post structuralist concept of ideology and discourse.

The next goal of critical theory is its interest in emancipation. Grundy (1987:99) describes the critical theory – as leading to a “transformation in the way in which one perceives and acts in the world”. The result of the emancipation is must be the production and consumption of tourism. In other words critical theory entertains ideas about ideal place and the good life for tourism with a particular emphasis in unleashing human agency and autonomy.

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A critique of technical rationality is formed it focused on means rather than ends and it demonstrates how in this respect critical theory differs from positivism. Positivism generally values the freedom, excluding the question of ethical and moral aspect which cannot be defined and concluded by the appeal to facts. It thereby rules out the consideration of what might or ought to be in favour of what is so that only means, facts and theory remain.

Young (1989:2) observes – “society which exists is only an imperfect representation of what it could be” as a key concern for the critical theorists.

Gibson (1986:37) explains that for critical theory: knowledge and interest in emancipation coincide and thus make for those unities which positivism severs – theory and practice, means and ends, thought and action, fact and value, reason and emotion.

A further aspect of critical theory is an understanding of the manifestation of the researcher and research theme and indeed an admission of first person reporting in research where positivism insists on third person distancing of the researcher in their reportage. In this way identity, sex and emotions are considered as part of a complex set of factors that can influence research and therefore deserve reflexive recognition in along with issues of rationality and power.

For one important reason the Critical theory sets itself apart from interpretivism. It does not necessary to believe the research result of the researcher to get a true reading of the world. It is wary of the possibility of their false or at the very least, not fully engaged consciousness and their inability to escape the knowledge – conventions of their period or culture. For example when witchcraft was an accepted explanation of human activity interpretivist research would have resulted in rich accounts of the phenomenon without necessarily challenging the concept.

Barnett (2003:56) describes false consciousness as the situation where “that which is contingent is seen as inevitable. That which is iniquitous is seen as just. That which is imposed is seen as natural.”

Ideology is considered as key to critical theory. Ideology has two unique meanings. The overarching network guidelines which has the ideas that frame, direct and inform the thinking.

Marx and Engels (1845:53) played an significant role in developing the concept of ideology and they identified the ruling ideology, that is the ideology of the dominant class.

The ideas of the ruling classes are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which act as a ruling material force of society, at the same time it acts as a counterpart of ruling intellectual force. The class which has the material production at its disposal at the same time have the control over the mental production, so generally speaking the idea of them whose don’t have control over the mental or intellectual production are subject to it.

Ideology also have a discrete and coherent belief systems. That systems have a long and ranging ideology such as political system for, e.g. Communism, Idea system e.g. Pantheism, Utilitarianism, liberalism and Confucianism to religious faiths such as Judaeo – Christianity, Mohammedism and Hinduism.

The work of critical theory is to identify the influence of ideology at research work and Habermas deployed ideology critique as a method of identification of ideology and a possible means of escape from ideology. Critiques encourages the self-understanding and the placing of representation of the world in the competition with other possible views of the world.

The Materialism is the ideology which concerns with the literature, research and the activities in the tourism as it suggests the underlying dominant common – sense view. The basic idea of tourism is it should bring profit or it should be organised for profit, it should not only concentrate on the profit it must also take the satisfaction of the paying tourist this is the common-sense back ground in which the tourism research operates

This common sense background ideology promotes the specific kind of knowledge which concentrates on the marketi


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